Skip to content

Hurt People, Hurt People

Over the summer my family and I made a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Van Gogh Exhibit. It was to be a short trip, there and back with minimal time around people and a maximum time experiencing the art of an artist we’ve studied off and on for the past several years.

While staying in the city, I was surprised by the sheer number of homeless people we encountered, far more than we’ve encountered the previous times we’ve ventured into the city. Tents lined the streets around our hotel, and at every turn of a street corner we were overwhelmed by the sights and smells of poverty. At the same time there were revitalization projects happening, and there were young families playing with toddlers, laughing with friends, and amazing smells of food wafting from the buildings. On one side of the street there was health and wealth. On the other side was sickness and poverty.

While eating our dinner outside one night, I couldn’t seem to find my balance. It was a weird feeling in my gut to be sitting on one side of the street, enjoying a fun night out with my kids and husband while at the same exact moment I could see drugs being passed among the men across the street. It was as if I were living in an alternate universe that these two things could literally co-exist at the same time and no one seemed bothered by it. No one was saying a thing about what was very clearly taking place right in front of us. We were, each side, going about our lives, and the contrast was so epic that even my children sensed the divide.

We spent less than 36 hours in the city, but that time has marked my thoughts since returning home. In my quiet moments of thought, I’ve turned the images over and over in my mind. I’ve asked myself questions, and found answers to only a handful of them. But mostly I’ve found the Lord using this tangible, very real experience to draw for me some pictures to illustrate what life in the Kingdom looks like.

I think it’s hard sometimes to live in a place of abundance when you know of so many just struggling to make ends meet. To know that there are literally thousands upon thousands of people around the world who are barely getting their basic needs met. It can feel wrong to laugh and play when you sense the nearness of depravity calling out, when the needs are encroaching into your line of sight and you feel deeply the divide of choice and non-choice.

Who am I to feel blessed? Who am I to have the privilege of choice? Who am I that I get to laugh and play with a family who loves me and adores me? Who am I?

I don’t know why I’m one of the ones sitting on the fake grass in the middle of a fancy sidewalk restaurant, enjoying a lingering summer night. I know but for the grace of God there go I. But it’s more than that.

I think we’re too quick to say that it’s my choices in life that have landed me on the right side of the street. I think it has very little to do with me, and everything to do with the love I’ve been shown.

I’ve been listening to the book, Bandersnatch, in my snippets of time this week, and I love how Erika Morrison challenges us to look past the decisions and choices and even the smells and look of a person and ask, “Who hurt you? Who didn’t love you well?”

Because really, that’s what my soul battled deeply standing in the middle of the D.C. sidewalk. It was the knowledge of how deeply I’ve been loved. Yes, I’ve been hurt in the past in ways that feel unspeakable, but I’ve also been loved deeply, tenderly, carefully. Not just by God, but by His people, His children. At every street corner and sidewalk, I encountered person after person whose story and lack of love and care from another human being landed them into this place of lack, and I wanted to ask, “Who hurt you? Who didn’t love you well?”

This is where the Kingdom comes into view. Our spiritual equilibrium will feel off this side of Heaven. We do have the privilege of living with joy, freedom, and abundance when we are in Christ. We experience this right splat in the middle of the depravity around us, yet God has chosen to bring forth His Kingdom through us. We are in the world but not of it, and it feels really weird sometimes when we stop to consider it, to look around us and see with His eyes.

I don’t know if I have a point to this writing except to bring you into my contemplation of depravity and my struggle to love the unloveable, or to simply know what to do in the face of suffering while I live in abundance.

I can often be heard saying, “Hurt people, hurt people.” It’s tempting to take it so personally when we’re hurt, or when we see someone doing something that we disagree with. But, can I encourage you to look past the surface with the people who irritate you the most?

Can I encourage you to ask yourself next time you encounter the unloveable: Who has hurt you so deeply that you feel the need to hurt others or yourself? Who has failed to love you well? Then, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in being His tangible expression of love to them.

Published inChurchLAD

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *